Pamela Mala Sinha and Alan Dilworth’s Crash is Theatre Passe Muraille’s latest alternative theatre piece, which opened on September 26th in the Back Space. This one-woman show tells the heart-wrenching story of The Girl (Pamela Mala Sinha), through alternating between two painful tales: her struggle with her father’s deteriorating health and her own personal trauma, dealing with a tragic rape incident.
Sound designer, Debashis Sinha, makes effective use of eerie music and deafening crashes in order to startle the audience. As integral plot points of the story escalate, Debashis Sinha ensures that they end with a powerful climax of sound.
Lighting Designer, Kimberly Purtell, is talented in using spot lights as tools to distort The Girl, and using projections to provide visual aids to her story. The combined effect creates something very creepy, which transports the audience right into the middle of the trauma.
Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty. Pamela Mala Sinha gives a potent performance, as she completely embodies The Girl and maintains her roles throughout, switching flawlessly from character to character. However, through telling her story in third person, I feel she alienated the audience, by eliminating the possibility of a deeper, more intimate connection, found through a story told in the present. Pamela Mala Sinha’s physicality was fantastic, but I was slightly disappointed with her use of multiple accents to portray different characters, which at times seemed unauthentic.
Dance was also incorporated into the piece, which I found to be simultaneously beautiful and frustrating. While I see it as an effective attempt to illuminate The Girl’s turmoil, the breaks in the narrative structure often took me out of the story.
Overall I see Crash as a work-in-progress. Being a creator of alternative theatre myself, there are certain choices that I would have made differently, however, any dedicated alternative theatre-goer can certainly see the gems in this piece and ride along with The Girl in her powerfully heartbreaking journey.
Crash runs from September 26 to October 19 at Theatre Passe Muraille. General Tickets cost $27.50 with discounts for seniors and arts workers. Call 416-504-7529 or go to passemuraille.ca for tickets and info.